David Reutimann picked up a top five in his second Busch Series start at O'Reilly Race Park. Although his #99 Aaron's Dream Machine finished 3rd in today's Kroger 200 and spent 170 of 200 laps in the top ten, the Michael Waltrip Racing driver had to show a great deal of restraint after the checkered flag when discussing a late race incident with eventual winner Jason Leffler.
"I've never been able to pass cars here at ORP," David stated post-race. "We've always been out to lunch. This week everyone did a great job. Mark Green did a fabulous job getting the car set-up. Everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing did great. We came out of here with a pretty decent finish. I'm real happy for everyone at TRD and Toyota -- they work real hard and they deserve it! They work hard to make these cars run good."
He went on to talk about what happened with Leffler. "He drove underneath and knocked in our right front fender in and it made our car tight after that. It's hard to pass here and you have to do stuff like that towards the end, but it was the third time he did it. I'm just disappointed in that, but I'm real happy with my guys -- they did a great job."
David was one of eight drivers who had to go to the rear of the field for the start of the race. He was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway across town when Mark Green completed time trials in the #99. Green qualified the car 6th, but David was 30th at the start of the race.
Aric Almirola led the field to the green flag at 8:18pm ET. By lap 3, David had worked his way up to 27th and had gained another spot one lap later. Lap 5 saw the #99 in 25th, and two laps later, the Aaron's Dream Machine was 24th. David passed Deac McCaskill one circuit later for position, and he picked off Kyle Krisiloff next. He passed Bobby Hamilton Jr before the yellow flag waved.
The first caution came on lap 13 after Steve Wallace spun Landon Cassill into the wall. David was 19th at the time, and Jason White received the free pass.
Racing resumed on lap 19 with Almirola leading and David in 18th. Three laps into the run, he was 15th. David reported that his car was handling perfectly and didn't need any changes, even if others were to make stops. He continued moving up through the ranks. He was 14th on lap 24. Passing Marcose Ambrose within the next three laps gained him another spot, and on lap 29, he was 12th.
On lap 32, the Aaron's Dream Machine broke into the top 10. David gained 9th from Jason Keller within the next two laps, and on lap 37, he picked up another spot from Tim McCreadie. Lap 42 saw the #99 move into 7th; David had passed Scott Lagasse.
The yellow flag waved for the second time on lap 44 after Josh Wise's #22 turned David Ragan's #6. Richard Johns received the free pass, and drivers pit under caution. The #99 team gained David one spot on pit road; however, some cars stayed on track.
Bobby East led the lap 50 restart, but Ron Hornaday took the lead right away. David rode 8th. Two laps into the run, Almirola ducked inside Hornaday's #77, and the pair battled side-by-side. Almirola's #20 took back the lead on lap 54. Meanwhile, David had lost a spot; however, he gained it back by getting around Scott Wimmer a couple laps later and picked up 7th on lap 59. The #99 dropped inside Cale Gale's #33 next and passed by lap 61. David was up to 5th when the yellow flag returned.
Scott Lagasse pushed Brad Coleman into the wall, drawing the third caution on lap 69. David Ragan received the free pass.
Almirola led the field to the lap 74 restart with David in 5th. Four laps into the run, the #99 shot past Hornaday's #77 for 4th.
The fourth caution came on lap 96 for Brett Rowe; his #05 hit the wall. Drivers made stops.
Deac McCaskill stayed out to lead the field to the lap 101 restart. David, who had come off pit road 4th, was 7th on the restart as three cars up front had not made stops. Greg Biffle took the lead on lap 106. By that time, the Aaron's Dream Machine had moved into 5th. David picked up a spot two laps later by getting around Aric Almirola, and on lap 110, he was up to 3rd.
NASCAR brought out the fifth yellow flag for Richard Johns, who got into the wall. The green flag returned on lap 144 but was retracted one lap later when Deac McCaskill got run into.
Greg Biffle led the lap 149 restart. David ran 3rd. Commentator Randy Lajoie pointed out that David was running the bottom groove and said that he liked his chances.
McCaskill spun again with 44 laps to go, drawing the sixth caution. The back end of his 39 caught on fire, and the driver's side was flush against the wall.
Racing resumed on lap 163 with Biffle in the lead and David in 3rd. With 35 laps to go, Edwards ran inside Biffle, and the teammates battled over the top spot. David was hot on their heels. Edwards led with 32 to go, but he and Biffle were still side-by-side. Biffle got back around Edwards two laps later. With 26 to go, David took the middle line and passed Edwards for 2nd. This allowed Biffle to get ahead by a few car lengths, and Leffler was now all over the back of the #99.
With 13 to go, Leffler ran into the side of the Aaron's Dream Machine. He passed, but then David got into the corner of the #38. The two made side contact again before David fell to 3rd.
"He was kind of pinching me off, and we had got together a little earlier in the race and didn't really give me all of the line on the race track," Leffler complained after the race. "But it was no big deal. He just made it pretty hard for me to pass. But there comes a time where you can either run third or you can try to win the race. He kind of roughed me up and then I kind of roughed him up, but I eventually got by him. I'm sure he could have crashed me there, but he didn't and I appreciate it. I really like David, and I'm sorry I had to do that. But he had a good run tonight too and finished third. I had to make a choice, and I wanted to get by him."
With nine laps to go, the seventh caution came out when Josh Wise spun. David ran beside Leffler under yellow to express his disgust.
Biffle led the restart with five laps to go. David was third and all over Leffler's rear fender. Leffler looked under Biffle's #16 for the top spot, and the pair ran side-by-side. With 2 to go, Leffler was in the lead and went on to win the first race for Toyota in the series. David finished 3rd, and Richard Johns and Steve Wallace wrecked after the checkered flag.